Skeletons in the closet (Office revamp – the unabridged version)

At present, joyous times are being had with our houseguests (my in-laws) from France, who will stay with us a few more days yet. All manner of general housecleaning needed to be done before they arrived, but I spent the better part of last week taking apart my office, sorting through unwanted miscellany (“garbage,” “recycle,” “Goodwill”), and putting the room back together.

Most of the action took place beneath the surface in the closet and drawers, so the room itself doesn’t look much different now than it did last week. Even so, it’s different to my eyes, which had beheld the spectacle of the room’s innards strewn about on the floor and piled up on furniture over the few days it took me to analyze it all. I felt like a forensics investigator. What has been seen cannot be unseen, as they say. It was a lot of crap.

The terrain of my desk changed slightly when I added a lamp, which makes all the difference. This is now my full-time work environment, so my office needed a desk lamp more than the dining nook did. (Another lamp has taken its place in the dining nook, anyway.)

You knew where this was leading… I’ve got the photographic tour here for anyone who may be interested, such as you fine readers who’d asked about my Table of Death when I mentioned it a week ago. It started as a raucous, dark joke with a friend when I showed her the table and realized just then that a Dia de los Muertos bag hangs in that corner (pure happenstance, which prompted the hilarity – you had to be there). Laughing about it helped to mitigate the somberness of that part of the room, but it helped further when another friend asked to see the table and called it a “Table of Remembrance.” So, yeah. I like pairing that brighter perspective with the dark humor one.

Enough about that. 360 office tour ahoy!

As seen from the doorway:

 

inside left corner (desk)

inside left corner (desk)

 

Desk (top view)

Desk (top view)

 

Desk corner detail: Valentine's Roses 2014, original art by Callaghan "not cal" by Not Cal, California ex-pats in Arizona

Desk corner detail:
Valentine’s Roses 2014, original art by Callaghan
“not cal” by Not Cal, California ex-pats in Arizona

 

Long wall to the left (with tapestry and twinkle lights)

Long wall to the left (with tapestry and twinkle lights)

 

Window wall across from the doorway (with futon)

Window wall across from the doorway (with futon)

 

Far right corner (Table of Death/Remembrance)

Far right corner (Table of Death/Remembrance)

 

Wall to the right (closet)

Wall to the right (closet)

 

Behind the door (Lucha Libre poster, boxing gloves, bags, hats)

Behind the door (Lucha Libre poster, boxing gloves, bags, hats)

 

Door-frame (pull-up bar overhead)

Door-frame (pull-up bar overhead)

 

This concludes our tour. I won’t be needing to cover a door window in this office, but the door here stays open, anyway.

What I’m Digging Right Now – August Favorites

August was interesting. It brought death, storm destruction, unpleasant dental work and a diagnosis of asthma for the Ronnie James. It also brought much in the way of good times, a new home and a new job for Callaghan.

At work, the fall semester started, and my Monday that week was epic: I started it first thing in the morning at home by spilling a full, large mug of coffee all over myself, the couch, the floor and the inside of my bag, which was sitting (open, of course) on the floor. How to start your day! Bathe in hot coffee! Such literal, caffeinated ablutions sanitize the early-morning mind. That’s how I saw it. Too bad about the almond milk, though.

Coffee scent still wafts out of my bag every time I open it. It’s not a terrible thing.

On that note, let’s start with entertainment!

 

1). The Killing (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.cm-the-killing-season-4-poster

 

Netflix released the fourth and final season of The Killing on August first, and we greedily absorbed it all in two days. It’s over now, and we’re sad about that, but I’ll tell you what… rarely has the final episode of a series felt so satisfying.

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: we’re hard-pressed to explain how The Killing’s Linden and Holder endeared themselves to us so completely.  Our favorite aspect of watching the series was witnessing the development of these characters and their partnership over the arc of the four seasons, but in fact, we loved everything about it. We found the haunting crime drama to be intriguing and masterfully-paced. The city of Seattle was depicted as mostly rainy and gray, and it seemed to be cast as a character in and of itself to gorgeous effect, veiled more in lyricism than grunge. The actors’ performances were exceptional. The plotlines for each of the seasons kept us quietly on edge. We enjoyed seasons one, two and four the most, but each season built on the last while revolving around unique plotlines (with the exception of season two, which was part two of the opening season’s storyline). Overall, we would say that The Killing is a brilliant and underrated series.

This brings to mind an incident that occurred in the store the other day: I was approached by a guy who wanted to know whether we had cable at home (evidently he worked for a cable company), and when I said no, he asked why not. I answered, “Because Netflix.” He was annoyed (maybe because I laughed, which was probably rude, now that I think about it) and pretty much stalked away with a black cloud over his head. At least we didn’t upset him more by telling him about the other internet resources we use for watching all kinds of movies and T.V. series!

 

2). Rage in the Cage (August 9, 2014).

 

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

 

It’d been too long since I’d attended a combat sports event at the Celebrity Theatre, so when our friend and Body Combat instructor said that she could get us a good deal on tickets because she was going to be working the event as a ring card girl, we gladly seized the opportunity. Not only was it fun to see Izzy at the event (it was like a preview of her participation in the natural physique competition she ended up dominating at the end of the month!), but the fights provided rock-solid entertainment. It was awesome to see that two of the night’s winners hailed from Arizona Combat Sports, the gym where I’d trained in Muay Thai back in its earlier days. The next Rage in the Cage event is in October, and we’re looking forward to it!

 

3). White peaches.

 

The white peaches have been so good, we haven't been able to get enough.

The white peaches have been so good, we haven’t been able to get enough.

 

We devoured white peaches all month… the ones at our favorite Fry’s were fabulous (maybe they still are), and we couldn’t get enough of them! You know how it is when you bite deeply into a piece of fruit and it’s just so satisfying on every level? It’s like that with these peaches. They’re sweet, fragrant, juicy and dense. For me, nothing signals or defines summer as convincingly as certain stone fruits – peaches, cherries, apricots and plums.

 

4). Vegan donuts at Whole Foods.

 

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

 

Leave it to our favorite Whole Paycheck Foods store to start stocking their bakery with vegan donuts. There’s nothing healthy about these deep fried, refined carb- and sugar-loaded delectables; “vegan” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “healthy,” and treats like these donuts are a great case in point. I feel a bit sheepish admitting that I’ve eaten something like five of them since I discovered them just a few weeks ago. Now I need to develop a will power specific to these donuts. Or not.

 

5). Little Ranch House in the Desert.

We’ve been in our new house for two days, and we all love it! We feel like we’re home, and all the space is a wonderful novelty for the kitties. We adopted them from a small apartment in France, and they’ve lived in nothing but equally small spaces up until this move. It’s been funny watching them here… it’s like, they have so much space, they don’t know where to go first. The bed is still their headquarters of choice, though.

 

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

 

6). Framed “Not Cal” decal.

 

NOT CAL in a frame!

NOT CAL in a frame!

 

I finally got this second NOT CAL decal framed! I put it in my new home office, of course. I love it.

 

7). göt2b Guardian Angel Gloss Finish Flat Iron Balm.

 

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don't use heat.

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don’t use heat.

 

This is good stuff. I picked this up in August thinking that I would start using my straight-iron again, but I discovered that I like what it does just by itself, as a leave-in treatment on dry hair. It adds a little something (I don’t even know what, really) that I like to my hair.

 

8). Manifesto (perfume).

 

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

 

In August, I started wearing “Manifesto,” which caught my eye because of its name. It amused me because of the Unibomber. (Not that I in any way condone, support or agree with the Unibomber and his activities, mind you. Just… you know. Manifesto.) Then, of course, there was the fragrance, itself! Made by Yves St. Laurent, it’s lovely with its body of white flowers, woods and vanilla. I think it bridges the summer and fall gorgeously.

(I wear perfume strictly for myself, by the way… because I like it, and because of what it evokes for me. I wore fragrance long before I ever wore makeup. It’s a personal thing.)

 

9). Paws jewelry.

 

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael's. (Photo from instagram.)

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael’s. (Photo from instagram.)

 

We were on an errand at Michael’s when I saw this cheap little set of costume jewelry. Paws. They were near a Halloween-themed display, so they may have been a part of that, which would make sense… I’m more prone to impulse-buying when Halloween things are out than any other time of the year.

 

This brings us to Ronnie James’ and Nounours’ “Favorites” pick for August!

 

10). Feliway.

 

A Feliway'd Nounours on the eve of our move.

A Feliway’d Nounours on the eve of our move.

 

Feliway is a product consisting of synthetic feline pheromones – undetectable by humans – emitted by a plug-in device similar to a plug-in air freshener. Our vet prescribed it to Ronnie James as a part of his treatment plan for anxiety, which was aggravating his asthma and causing him to over-groom himself. It works, and it works really well! Feliway mellows kitties like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We had the first one in our bedroom in the apartment before we moved, and now, in the house, we have an additional one – so, one in the living room, and another in our bedroom. Kitty bliss. =)

 

That wraps up my “little things” favorites list for August. Welcome, September!

Welcome to the Hotel NOT CALifornia!

First of all, Happy 4th of July, fellow Americans! I’m coming at you from a coffee shop this morning because our internet at home is down. And hey, how about that dust storm last night?! The luscious scent of creosote enveloped us the second we stepped outside this morning… it’s going to rain. Monsoon season begins!

Whoa, I’m feeling scattered here. Let me focus on sharing with you my latest favorite discovery.

The first time we spotted a vehicle with a “Not Cal” decal, we did a double-take. The second look was necessary because we’re used to seeing California pride decals that say “So Cal” for Southern California, or “Nor Cal” for Northern California.

We thought we were looking at a “Nor Cal” decal, but the “r” wasn’t right… it looked more like a “t.” It seemed to spell “Not Cal.” Squinting and looking closer, I realized, Hey! It DOES say “Not Cal!” Then I saw that the lettering was centered over a beautiful bronze graphic of the state of Arizona, which was resplendently merged with the Arizona flag. Not California. Arizona. I was stoked.

 

The AZ flag with its copper star and sunset rays. (AZ is famous for its copper mining industry and sunsets.)

The AZ flag with its copper star and sunset rays. (AZ is famous for its copper mining industry and sunsets.)

 

[Side-note trivia: In the 2001 poll taken by the North American Vexillological Association, the Arizona flag ranked #6 on the list of 10 Best Flags in North America – the sixth best flag out of 72 flags! New Mexico’s flag took first place, Texas came in second, and Quebec’s flag ranked third with its elegant fleur de lys design. Interesting, right? See the poll results here.]

Broken down geographically, the residential picture of my life looks like this:

First, I lived in “Nor Cal” for 18 years (born in San Francisco, raised in San Jose), spending most childhood summers with extended family out of state (Hawaii). I moved away after I graduated from high school. I’ve spent the last 27 years in “Not Cal.”

Over those 27 years, I lived overseas for five years (three years and three months in West Germany/Germany, six months in Saudi Arabia/Iraq/Kuwait, one year and six months in France), and five months in Texas… and I’ve lived in Arizona for 20 years and eight months (interrupted only by the time spent in France and Texas).

The point being that I was born and raised in California, but I’ve lived more of my life outside of California than in it, and over 75% of that time, I’ve lived in Arizona. I couldn’t be happier in a place, and I especially couldn’t be happier to NOT be in a place. For all its beauty and the fact that people I love live there, California and I are not a good fit. I’m a California native who feels like an Arizona native, and I’m not alone… we ‘Zonans like to joke that anyone who’s lived in the Land of AZ for 10 years or longer qualifies as a native, since most people who live in Arizona moved here from somewhere else.

(Apparently, a significant percentage of transplants in Arizona come from California. My friend and real estate agent Nick once remarked that every time there’s a natural disaster in California, Californians stampede to Arizona.)

So when I saw the “Not Cal” decal the first time, I was amused.

The second time I saw it, on a different vehicle, I was even more amused, because then I realized that “Not Cal” was a thing, which meant that it could be had. I found it online, ordered it, and Zach-the-Not-Cal guy got it to our mailbox within two days.

 

Bugsy all glammed-up!

Bugsy all glammed-up!

 

So, Zach and everyone at Not Cal Clothing and Big Cartel (funny coincidence… I’m at Cartel right now), thank you! Thanks for helping us ex-Californian ‘Zonans represent. =)